#6. You don’t want your boss’s job.
We’ve all been there at some point—working a dead-end job we’re sure is a horrible fit just to pay the bills. If you haven’t, congrats! You’re one of few.
One of the most confusing things about dead-end jobs, though, is you often don’t know you’re in one. You might suspect things won’t work out, but something always complicates the situation: you’re good at the work, your co-workers are nice, you like your boss, etc.
If you have goals and aspirations for your career, though, it’s important to look at your work with a critical eye. Is the path you’re on now one you can reasonably expect to get you to the place you want to be?
I asked our community over in The Riskology Lab, “What are the tell-tale signs you’re in a dead-end job?”
Together, we came up with a list of characteristics that can help you figure out if you are, in fact, in the wrong place. Have a look and decide for yourself.
11 Signs You Might Be In A Dead End Job
Don’t freak out if you see one thing that pertains to you here; everyone will find one or two at some point in their career. But if you find yourself saying, “yes, that’s totally me” to more than three or four—and they’re more severe signs… well… it might be time to take a long, hard look at where you’re headed.
These are what we see as “red flags.” That means, if one or more of them apply to your job, you should really take a look at your career and ask yourself if you can get where you want to go from the position you’re in.
1. A machine could do your job.
This is the biggest red flag. The world is on a constant quest for efficiency, and if your job could be replaced by a machine, eventually it will be. Will you have other skills to fall back on when it happens? If you’re not sure if your job could be done by a machine, ask yourself these questions:
- Does your role allow you to work without any need for people skills?
- Are your daily tasks predictable and repetitive?
- In your job, are you free from making judgment calls because the rules / parameters are strictly laid out?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, your job will probably be replaced by a machine some day.
2. Your company regularly promotes from outside.
Do positions you’d like become available regularly, but it seems you and your colleagues always get passed over for others from outside your company? This could be a sign your employer doesn’t value its workforce. Instead of working to develop their current talent, they choose to try to find the perfect candidates outside.
Don’t worry, the new guy who just got the job you wanted will be as frustrated as you when he’s not shiny and new anymore, but this is your warning call: Start looking for a new job.
3. Everyone above you has been there forever.
This can be a problem particularly with small businesses. Someone started the company, it grew, and a few folks settled into key roles early in their careers. Then, you got hired. You’re awesome, and your boss may even want to promote you, but there’s nowhere for you to go; everything’s taken, and no one is leaving.
Unless you want to wait a very long time (and maybe you do; that’s up to you), then it’s time to start job hunting.
4. Your company is not growing.
If your company is stuck in a rut and has no clear vision to get out, you’re not getting promoted any time soon. Maybe not at all. In fact, watch out. If the numbers turn negative, you’re not only not getting a promotion, you might be up for the next round of layoffs!
5. Your boss / company doesn’t value creativity.
You might pour your heart into finding new and novel ways to solve problems for your company, but if your boss or the business you work for is completely stuck in their ways, they may not value your creativity. Since creativity is the most important thing that separates you from a machine (see red flag #1), you’re almost certainly stuck in a dead-end job.
6. You don’t want your boss’s job.
This is an easy one, and it’s a major red flag. Look around at everyone above you at your company. Can you see yourself enjoying their jobs? If you got your boss’s job tomorrow, would you feel like you were doing fulfilling work?
If you don’t clearly define what you want, you may get all the way to the top of the ladder only to find you’ve climbed the wrong one. You could be a CEO with a dead-end job!
7. Your boss doesn’t support your career goals.
When you tell your boss about the type of work you want to be doing in 5 years, does she actively help you find ways to work towards that goal and support you? Or, does she say, “That’s really great,” and go back to talking about turning in your latest TPS report?
It’s incredibly hard to move up in a company if you don’t have support from your direct superior. Whether it’s office politics or just ambivalence, you should address it right away when you notice it because it could get you trapped in a dead-end job.
The rest of these are lower-level warning signs. Identifying with one or two of them doesn’t mean you’re in a dead-end job, but it does mean you should take some sort of action to improve your situation and make sure you’re on the right track.
8. Your role has never evolved.
Have you been in your job for a while, yet it feels the same today as it did the day you started? If so, you could be in a dead-end job. To build your career, you should always be advancing your role, taking on new responsibilities, and improving the way you work.
This isn’t necessarily your boss’s fault, though. It could be you simply haven’t taken the initiative to grow your role. If that’s the case, you should either start taking that initiative, or ask yourself why you’re unmotivated to do so.
9. You find yourself asking, “Is this all there is?” even when things are going right.
If things are humming along, you’re doing your job well, and everyone’s happy with your performance… but you still feel like something is wrong, you might be in a dead-end job. It could be that you just need to make some effort to take things to the next level. Or, it could mean you just don’t like the work you’re doing and you need to re-evaluate your career.
10. You spend more than 5% of your day dreaming about other things.
What’s a daydream but a tell-tale sign you’re not doing what you really want to be doing? A job with a future is one you get excited about. Even when it gets tough, you’re motivated to overcome the challenges.
If you find yourself regularly being drawn away from your work to dream about other things, it could be a strong sign you’re in a dead-end job and should be pursuing those other things.
11. You often find yourself thinking, “I could do better.”
When you’re passionate about your work, it’s normal to get in arguments about it and how you do it. But, if you regularly find yourself thinking, “I would be much happier somewhere else,” it could be a sign you should start looking for somewhere else to be!
If you find yourself thinking this because you’re not being promoted or your pay isn’t high enough, it could also be because you simply haven’t asked for what you wanted. Remember that, in life, you usually have to ask for what you want. If you want a better position or more money, you can’t be afraid to make it known.
How Do You Stack Up?
When you go through these 11 signs of a dead-end job, how many of them do you find yourself nodding your head to?
If it’s more than a few, it might be time to take a difficult but serious look at moving your knowledge and skills elsewhere. That might seem scary at first, but remember that the research shows changing jobs often leads to higher pay.
So, how did you stack up?
This post originally appeared at riskology.co